A call has been issued for a special form of punishment for predial larcenists in Barbados.
Minister of Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss made the suggestion while delivering the feature address at the official opening of the Sunbury Harvest Agro-processing Plant in St Philip this morning.
The call was supported by president of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, who told Barbados TODAY farmers continued to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in animals and produce to thieves each year.
Inniss said there were “too many thieves in this country”, adding that it was “very disheartening” to know a farmer who had worked tirelessly would have his crops reaped and animals slaughtered by someone else.
“It is nothing short of reprehensible that an individual could leave their home and go to somebody else’s property, at night in particular, and thieve their produce. The truth of the matter is there should be a special sentence meted out to such individuals,” said Inniss.
“These things are fundamentally wrong. And while we on the political side talk about it and bring new legislation, there needs to be an awakening in this country that predial larceny is fundamentally wrong,” said Inniss.
He later told Barbados TODAY it was equally important that more focus be placed on preventative methods.
Paul said he totally supported the call for stiffer punishment, adding that the current methods “are not working”.
“We have to look at the punishment methods that we are using right now; whether or not we need to increase fines, or whether or not we extend the [jail sentences],” said Paul.
While he could not give the dollar amount BAS members lose each year to thieves, Paul said: “Farmers have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars going into millions of dollars over the years.”
He also noted that as a result of predial larceny, production time and jobs were lost across the sector.
“I have reports on a daily basis of farmers coming and telling me, ‘Mr Paul, I lost a few sheep’. The case of the cows is ridiculous,” he added.
“I have situations where farmers have lost whole fields . . . . The . . . loss that this country has suffered as a result of predial larceny means that we cannot any longer treat predial larceny as folklore,” said Paul, adding that some consumers were to be blamed for creating a market for the stolen goods.
Paul also renewed his call for better monitoring of markets across the island, saying inspectors and police officers needed to be more vigilant in the public markets “to at least ensure that these people are being kept honest”.
“Especially those farmers’ markets that are springing up,” he said. “If it means harassing people, then yes,” said Paul. (MM